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1885 - King Solomon's Mines

HRH's first runaway success!

KING SOLOMON'S MINES was first published as a single 5-shilling volume by Cassell & Company in London

"The first printing consisted of 2,000 copies. Of these, 1,000 copies were bound up in September, 1885, and contained at the end a catalogue of Cassell & Co. publications (8 leaves), dated August, 1885; 500 copies were bound up in October, 1885, and contained at the end a catalogue of Cassell & Co. publications (eight leaves), dated October 1885; and 500 sets of sheets were shipped to Cassell & Co., New York, where they were bound and published in November, 1885."

George L. McKay

The first 2,000 copies contain typographical errors that were corrected in later printings.

THE FIRST ISSUE: A catalogue of ads with the date-codes "5 G. 8.85" and "5 B. 8.85" was included in 1,000 copies

THE SECOND ISSUE: A catalogue of ads with the date-codes "5 G. 10.8" (the 5 is missing) and "5 B. 10.85" was included in 500 copies

THE FIRST AMERICAN ISSUE: The last 500 copies, which were sent to New York, were not bound with any catalogue, hence, no date-codes

Scott agrees with McKay that KING SOLOMON'S MINES was first published September 30, 1885; while Whatmore only agrees on the publication month and year, but not day.

Whatmore does mention that a 1920 Cassell reprint of KING SOLOMON'S MINES lists the first printing as September 1, 1885. And, I own an 1899 printing that lists the date of the first printing as August 1885. It appears that the definite date of first publication is unknown.

I do not own any of the books pictured below, unless noted.

The very handsome copy below was sold by Sotheby's for £20,000 in 2016

1885 first London issue of the first printing of the First Edition, with typographical errors, and ads at the end date-coded "5 G. 8.85" and "5 B. 8.85"

Notice the publisher is NOT printed on the bottom of the cloth spine for the first London issue, whereas the first New York issue does have it printed at the bottom

This image is Sotheby's

The very handsome light-green copy below was sold by Heritage Auctions for $3250 in 2012

London: Cassell & Company, 1885. First printing of the first edition (with the typographical errors), the less common first American issue, this copy bound in green cloth in Cassell's New York city office without publisher's catalogue at end. Original brown and white floral and star patterned endpapers, and publisher printed at bottom of spine.

Below, a first London issue of the first printing, with 1885 on the title-page, with all typographical errors, and with ads at the end date-coded "5 G. 8.85" and "5 B. 8.85"

David Frank supplied the photos

The first London issue has ads at the end date-coded "5 G. 8.85" and "5 B. 8.85"

The first and second London issues, and the first American issue of the first printing (2000 copies) have 3 typographical errors:

  • "Bamamgwato" for "Bamangwato" on p. 10, line 14 (middle of page, on right)

  • "to let twins to live" for "to let twins live" on p. 122, line 27 (bottom of page, 3 lines up)

  • "wrod" instead of "word" on p. 307, line 29 (bottom of page, second to last line)

Below: My copy of one of the 500 copies of the first American issue

Bound in dark green cloth in Cassell's New York city office without publisher's catalogue at end, with floral patterned endpapers, and publisher printed at bottom of spine.

The typographical errors are all present and 1885 appears on the title-page, designating this as one of the 2000 copies of the first printing

The folding map and title-page in my copy of the American first issue, which is free of foxing

One of the 500 copies of the first American issue of 1885, this one bound in red cloth in Cassell's New York city office without publisher's catalogue at end, with floral patterned endpapers, and publisher printed at bottom of spine. The typographical errors are all present in this first American issue of the first printing.


David Frank supplied the photos.

Below: One of the 2000 copies of the 1885 first printing, with all three typographical errors, but ads at the end of the book date-coded "5 G. 10.8" instead of "5 G. 8.85"

500 copies were bound with the October ads, and comprise the second issue (the first issue consists of the 1000 copies with the August ads)


David Frank supplied the photos.

Below: the October ads, found at the end of the second issue copies are date-coded "5 G. 10.8" instead of "5 G. 10.85"

The first date-code on the ads is missing the "5" to make a proper "85"

The date-codes signify that this copy is from October 1885

David Frank supplied the photos.

The famous facsimile of the Map of Route to King Solomon's Mines

Cassell was not at all thorough or meticulous with respect to its printing history for KING SOLOMON'S MINES

Below I include images of three different printing histories, and they conflict with one another.

Cassell printing history, up to 1899

Cassell printing history, up to 1907

Cassell printing history, up to 1926

The Typographical Errors found in the first printing do not exist in the second and all subsequent Cassell printings

I created some webpages specific to some of the earliest printings

November 2, 1885 - 3rd printing, November 30, 1885 - 4th printing?

I have seen a copy of KING SOLOMON'S MINES where the title-page specifies "Sixth Thousand" and also has 1885 at the bottom; it was reported to me that "20.1185" appears at the bottom of page 320; and that the ads at the end are date-coded "5 G. 11.85" and "5 B. 11.85"

December 10, December 14, December 22, December 27, 1885

Whatmore mentions that in one of his copies KING SOLOMON'S MINES the title-page specifies "Eighth Thousand" and also has 1885 at the bottom; "20.1285" appears at the bottom of page 320; and the ads at the end are date-coded "5 G. 11.85" and "5 B. 11.85"

Whatmore mentions another one of his copies where the title-page does not specify any "Thousand" but has 1886 at the bottom; "20.1285" appears at the bottom of page 320; and the ads at the end are date-coded "6 G. 9.85" and "6 B. 9.85"

ILLUSTRATED EDITIONS

(click link to view the webpage)

In 1887 (supposedly the 53rd thousand), the first illustrated edition was published, featuring 9 illustrations by Walter Paget.

Also in 1887 (supposedly the 31st thousand), a total eclipse of the sun found in Chapter XI was changed to a total eclipse of the moon.

Click the image to visit the webpage for this edition

(click link to view the webpage)

In 1905 Cassell published a new edition that features 32 illustrations by W. Russell Flint.

Click the image to visit the webpage for this edition

(click link to view the webpage)

And, in 1912, Cassell published another new edition featuring gorgeous A.C. Michael color illustrations on 8 plates.

Click the image to visit the webpage for this edition

Below is an excerpt from HRH's autobiography concerning KING SOLOMON'S MINES

HRHonKSM

Below: photos of signed copies of KING SOLOMON'S MINES that I found on the Internet (none are mine)